August 23, 2017

Higher Education Investment in Florida Remains Well Below Pre-Recession Level

Per pupil funding is 19 percent below what it was a decade ago, according to new report

Lake Mary, FL – Cuts to higher education in Florida have driven up tuition costs for families and students, according to a new report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP).

Over the past decade, tuition at public, four-year colleges in Florida increased by 62 percent, or an average of $2,436, while state spending per student, adjusted for inflation, is 19 percent ($1,820) below the pre-recession level. Florida did increase per pupil spending between 2016 and 2017 by 4.35 percent.

While postsecondary funding declined, the Legislature simultaneously approved a series of tax cuts that benefit business.

“Investing in public higher education benefits not only students and families, but business as well, ensuring that employers have a well-prepared labor force,” said Joseph F. Pennisi, executive director of the Florida Policy Institute. “Policymakers must consider what we are giving up by reducing available revenues. These funds should instead be invested in services like higher education that provide real benefit to Florida’s economy.”

After the recession, many states cut higher education funding even as enrollment rose, notes the report, with many states choosing to “fix budget deficits through sizeable budget cuts rather than a more balanced mix of spending reductions and revenue increases.” While the Legislature cut education funding during the recession, people believed that funding would be restored and adjusted for inflation as the economy improved. This has not been the case.

The report also points to research showing that as tuition goes up, students of color and low-income students are less likely to enroll, and low-income students may be pushed “toward less selective public institutions, reducing their future earnings.”

“More and more jobs require a postsecondary education. The Florida Legislature and Governor Scott should prioritize investment in public higher education,” added Pennisi.

The Florida Policy Institute is an independent, nonpartisan and nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting widespread prosperity through timely, thoughtful and objective analysis of state policy issues affecting economic opportunity.

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